Who: #1 Grand View University, #17 Northwestern University, #19 Morningside University, Waldorf University, Graceland University, William Penn University, and Briar Cliff University
What: NAIA Wrestling National Championship
Where: Jacobson Exhibition Center –Des Moines, IA
When: March 2-3
Team Race: The Grand View Vikings enter the championship weekend in their own backyard. The Vikings are expected to claim their seventh consecutive national title following another undefeated season. Coaches Nick Mitchell and Paul Reedy will bring twelve athletes to the tournament. The question is, can this roster break the record GVU set last year in Topeka?
125 lbs: Grand View will be represented by two wrestlers at 125 lbs., #4 Matt Nguyen and #9 Justin Portillo. Both automatically qualified for the tournament at the Heart of America Conference Championship. Nguyen and Portillo will have a first-round bye. Morningside University will also have two athletes competing, #12 Keegan Hessler and Devon Phaly. Phaly received a GPAC Conference Wild Card qualification. Hessler will face Chandler Strand of Embry-Riddle in the first round. Phaly will take on Olson Delisca of Southeastern.
133 lbs: Fourth-ranked Taylor Lehman of Waldorf enters the tournament as the highest ranked wrestler representing an Iowa institution at 133 pounds. Lehman will have a first-round bye. Grand View’s Trevor Murano is currently ranked 6th, followed by Northwestern’s Jacob Hergott in fifteenth. Murano will wrestle Haidon Allen of Saint Mary’s. Hergott will face Ian Morken of Menlo. Graceland’s Cartland Allen and Briar Cliff’s Isiah Lysius round out the remainder of the Iowa competitors in this weight class. Allen received a bye, while Lysius will take on Tanner Irwin of Williams Baptist.
141 lbs: Top-ranked Josh Wenger of Grand View University will represent the state of Iowa at 141 pounds. Wenger has compiled an 18-2 season, grabbing the Heart of America Conference automatic qualifier spot. Wenger has received a first-round bye and will face Lucas McCain of Lindsey Wilson in the second round.
149 lbs: Morningside’s Steven Garcia (#4) will enter the tournament as the highest ranked wrestler representing the state. Garcia will have a bye in the first round. He is followed closely by Grand View’s Devin Reynolds (#5). Reynolds will wrestle Dawson Hundt of Reinhardt. Twelfth-ranked Dante Preciado of Northwestern and Graceland’s Brandon Seward will also be in the bracket. Preciado has received a first-round bye, while Seward will take on Chandler Michael of Southern Oregon.
157 lbs: Mason Miller (#13) of Grand View is the sole ranked wrestler representing an Iowa institution in this weight class. He will face Dylan Chatterton of Southeastern to start the tournament. Miller will be joined by Drew Sams of Graceland University. Both received automatic qualifier positions from the conference. Sams will wrestle Casey Dobson of Providence in the first round.
165 lbs: Grant Henderson (Grand View) is the man to beat in this weight class. Henderson enters the tournament ranked first with a 19-2 record for the season. He has received a first-round bye. Seventh-ranked Andrew Null (Northwestern) and Briar Cliff’s Chris Paulsen (#13) will round out the division. Null has received a bye. Paulsen will wrestle Brett Johnson of Marian.
174 lbs: Top-ranked Lawton Benna (Grand View) and teammate Dylan Blackford (#7) headline the weight class. Benna and Blackford have received a bye to start the tournament. 12th-ranked Brandon Schuler (Northwestern) will join the pair of Vikings. All three wrestlers have received automatic qualifier positions. Schuler will face Michael Carew of Reinhardt.
184 lbs: Grand View’s Artie Bess (#6) will kick off the 184-pound bracket. Bess has received a first-round bye. D’rell Gist of Northwestern has received an automatic qualifier position from the GPAC. Gist will face Hunter Smith of Life to start the tournament.
197 lbs: Evan Hansen (#1) returns to the 197-pound weight class to defend his national title from last season. Hansen will start the tournament facing Brandon Reibly of Reinhardt. Nick Null (#14) of Northwestern will enter the tournament with an automatic qualifier position from the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Null is 18-3 on the season. Null will take on Corey Hinkle of Lindsey Wilson in the first round.
285 lbs: Top-ranked Dean Broghammer of Grand View will return to the heavyweight division after placing fifth in 2017 and first in 2016. Broghammer enters the tournament with a record of 22-3. He will face Elijah Bailey of Marian to start the tournament. Broghammer will be joined by seventh-ranked Max Lewis of William Penn. Lewis has received a first-round bye.